'Google search is not enough': Cebu establishments hit ableist resort on social media

'Google search is not enough': Cebu establishments hit ableist resort on social media
This undated photo shows a view of Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Mactan, Cebu
Plantation Bay Resort and Spa / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Businesses and establishments from Cebu took subtle jabs at a Mactan resort whose shareholder wrongly shamed a parent for the behavior of her child with autism. 

This follows the viral post of a mother of a child with special needs outlining the treatment she and her child received at the hands of employees of the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Cebu. In her post, Mai Pages, whose son has autism, said that she and her son were called out by lifeguards at the resort pool after her son began "squealing with delight."

The incident triggered discourse online about the lack of disability sensitivity in establishments in the Philippines, and the resort was largely panned by autism advocates. All this came as the nation celebrated National Human Rights Consciousness Week, and days after the commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities for 2020.

In a comment referencing the incident, Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa wrote: "Children screaming when they're happy equates to a child squealing in pure joy and this is what we want to hear."

"If the kids are happy, it becomes a delightful vacation for Mom and Dad too," the page also said. 

In a separate Facebook post, the owners of Asian fusion restaurant Banana Pancake Trail Cebu posted a photo of their two children with special needs, saying: "Seventeen years is not enough for us to fully understand what autism is, a plain Google search simply couldn't be enough." 

This was in reference to the now-deleted response of Manny Gonzalez, one of the resort's shareholders to Pages' complaint, where he accused her of lying, claiming that "uncontrolled shouting is not a symptom of autism." 

"When all our children are finally allowed to go out, bring them to Banana Pancake Trail. They can eat whatever they want for free. If they have a special request on the menu, we can make it happen. They can be noisy and rowdy. They can make a mess. Our staff will never discriminate and will cleanup after them with a smile. We offer streetfood. We feed the soul. But most importantly, we serve kindness and compassion."

Gonzalez has since issued a secondary apology for the incident, but not before highlighting that the hotel's policy at "keeping noise levels down in the pool" was geared towards the safety and relaxation for all guests. "We try to apply this policy even-handedly. As a result of that policy, in almost 25 years we have never had a child die here. A mother's pride is important, but more important are the lives of the children who come here," he wrote.  

Franco Luna

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